It’s that time of year again. The one that all of us regular women who weren’t born super models, loves to hate – SWIMSUIT SEASON!! Oooooh the agony! I shop online ordering all of the amazing styles that I love, they come in the mail and once I try them on, I feel like a giant sausage stuffed in its casing. As women we are our very own worst critics, I know, but sometimes reality is just that – REALITY. It’s the same reason I stay away from animal print clothing, I don’t need to look like I just ate a tiger. I realize that it’s only April, but living in the south April is just summer’s debut party.
For me, this time of year is better known as tanning season. Having this obsession for tanning that at one point reached an unhealthy level, I never got help for it and it is still ongoing. Case in point, my wedding photos, seven years ago. It was the end of November and I was so dark that I looked like I had rolled in mud beforehand. I later asked my friends why no one pulled the baby oil from my greasy hands and canceled my membership to the local tanning salon, and they said they tried to tell me I was really dark. Hearing the words, “Wow, you’re really dark!” is a huge compliment to people obsessed with tanning, not an intervention. I stopped frequenting the tanning beds years ago after picturing myself as the pruned neighbor in kaftans on “There’s Something About Mary,” and decided I would restrict my habit to only outdoors in the months of summer. Kind of like alcoholics who only drink on special occasions. My special occasion is anytime of the year that I have to wear less clothes. I need to not be so blindingly transparent that I am green thanks to my thin skin and visible veins. It was a sacrifice, because those fifteen minutes in the tanning bed were the ONLY fifteen minutes that I got to be in glorious, uninterrupted peace and quiet from my kids and the rest of the world. I think I was more addicted to that, then the process of tanning in a bed.
The past two days I worked on the garden and yesterday I decided that if I was going to be out all day in the sun, planting, that I was going to put on a swim top and shorts to at least seize the opportunity to soak up some rays. And soak them up, I did. When I was finally finished and inside washing away the heat with a cold beer, I felt the tingle of burnt skin. This sensation is like the first taste of raw steak to a hungry dog. I tasted the obsession that revisits me each year, I tasted a tan. If it hadn’t been night time, I would’ve gone back outside to get more sun – that’s how ridiculous I am. Let’s be honest though, most people know when you do not tan all year long, that the first summer sunburn can be BRU-TAL. Not only does it hurt and makes wearing any clothes at all totally uncomfortable, it also keeps you locked away indoors where it is cold and shaded for at least a week until it subsides. I was glad to have that initial burn out of the way before summer really starts, but the feeling of it awakened the beast. I figured if I was going to get a tan then I needed to break out all of my swimsuits and have them ready to go when the time comes.
Which brings me to that horrible moment of trying on the first bathing suit of the season. What fit so nicely or in some case loosely last year – Yeah, not so much of either this year. When I shop for them I always buy two. One that I would never be seen in public in so that I can get a good, solid tan in all the places hidden from the sun while sunbathing in my backyard, and then one more modest for the public. Though I do absolutely hate being in a swimsuit in front of people and try to avoid it at all costs. No one wants to see all that mess! Anyway, this time of year tends to get the best of all of us ladies out there. I try on that first swimsuit and realize that maybe those second helpings of Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner and extra slice of birthday cake, six months ago, wasn’t such a good idea. This is the time that I break out my exercise ball, resistance bands, tennies and tears, and start getting serious. I load up on protein, stay away from the midnight ice cream that my husband and I sneak quietly to eat while our toddler is asleep. The evil mozzarella sticks that call to me when I pass certain fast food restaurants get a firm NO, and the discussions about living a healthier lifestyle fills the kitchen of our home. Even though, my husband and I do already eat very heathy, we are still a couple of gluttons for all things delicious. We don’t overeat, but we have a taste for things that are either loaded in butter, sugar or both!! It also doesn’t help that we really enjoy cooking and come up with some crazy good recipes, because now we are that much more dangerous than we ever were before. It’s not as simple as not stopping for fast food or buying that dessert from the store, we can make much better from scratch at home and threaten to if pushed.
I understand that being 34 years old with kids, means that my best body days are long behind me and it may be time to buy those old lady bathing suits with sleeves that go from the neck to the knees – But I just can’t surrender that easily. I know there’s a better body in there somewhere and with the sheer goal of not wanting to stress out my bathing suits to bursting with trying to hold all of that body in, I’ve got to try to find it!
After planting so much for two days, my poor body feels like I have done the equivalent of one hundred squats and two hundred crunches. I mean literally I cannot squat to pick up a dish towel off of the floor, instead I have to use my toes. It would be insanely funny if it wasn’t so terribly pathetic. But I added some protein in my smoothie and successfully completed one of two workout sessions for the day, determined to find my beach body before summertime hits. I am fairly positive that tomorrow I will be unable to walk, but eventually I will be able to again and my tired old muscles better just watch out! These swimsuits and pale skin will NOT get the best of me!